By Segan Helle
I was born in the middle of August. I was born in the middle of the month that most people leave for college. This means that for the past four years, each birthday my gift has been having to say goodbye to my friends and family members who leave home to pursue the next part of their educational experience. Needless to say, it is a bittersweet time.
This year, it is my turn to leave. While at this point I am no stranger to goodbyes, it feels a little closer to home when I have to learn how to say goodbye to not just one person, but to all my friends and family who will soon be distanced over 3,000 miles away from me.
According to the article “The Transition from High School to College,” published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the toughest part for most students going from high school to college is not the course load itself, but rather the sudden realization of autonomy. It can be a separation from parents and friends who have supported and helped you through your entire life and the expectation that you will now be completely self-sufficient. While for some this may not seem daunting after 18 years, for most it marks a time of both excitement and anxiety. It marks a time when friend groups split up—when people go their separate ways to see each other for a few weeks every three to four months. For some, it seems to mark the end.
Realistically speaking, it is true that relationships change when distance is thrown into the mix. Friends grow apart when they find themselves unable, sometimes for the first time, to see each other every day, and as schedules diverge to become more and more different, it can be difficult to find the time to maintain that constant stream of communication that some are used to.
However, if there is anything that I have learned over the past four years of goodbyes, it is that graduation and moving out does not have to signify the death blow to a relationship. Instead, it is simply a change. In today’s age, technology has provided people thousands of new ways to keep in touch and communicate, and thus, stay in each other’s lives despite the distance. Video calls, phone calls, text messages, instant messaging apps, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, letters, postcards, emails: there are a myriad of different ways to continue a friendship. Pick your battles. Decide which relationships are considered a priority and work to preserve them.
Leaving for college or moving out should not be viewed as the end. It should be viewed as a beginning. Relationships do not die unless you let them. Goodbyes do not need to be forever. Instead, they can simply be for now.